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Momentary Sigh After 4 week RUN


Weeks 7-10 of 2024, Allie's Farm Journal Post

Time moves ever so fast on a farm, and of any occupation it seems like there is never enough of it. There aren't many other occupations that have to coordinate to do list with the out of door weather conditions and seasons. Interestingly, timing is of the essence with practically every step of a farm's year. As deadlines are set for completion of projects in other fields of work, this really is done just to ensure completion, as achievement can still be met a month later. On the farm's flip side, for example, if a certain seeding does not occur in a certain window of time then there is no second chances for that particular year. If we do not get our clover overseeded within a month's window then that opportunity is gone. It does not matter whether we keep working at overseeding after the deadline has come and gone. Because, if we up and decided to work at the project of overseeding the clover late in May, our act of completion would not correlate to success or achievement. The sown clover would not germinate and grow and hence the cattle herds would not be benefited by getting to graze it and nor would there be any improvement of field and pasture.

The last month on the farm seemed like there were so many TO DO's on the list that the only TO DO that I could forgo were my weekly farm journal post. See, writing for example, is a deadline that can be completed at anytime. There is no long term seasonal loss by not writing or working with computer technology. Every action and chore on a farm is so tangible and so life giving that there are not many corners to be cut or tasks to put off till a better time. We all are familiar with the saying, "Make Hay while the Sunshines" and that is ever so pertinent with every chore and project on a farm.

When I take a step back and think that Foothill Frolic Farm's Local Custom Beef long term plan started back in 2020 and here it is 2024, I realize all the completed tasks that have had to happen every farming year to get to where we have a steady flow of "birth to beef" custom beef offerings on a yearly basis, and if we had missed certain seasonal deadlines there would not be custom beef available. Or in the last two farming years when the conventional cattle market industry has recorded record highs in the monetary values of calves and yearlings, we could have chosen the quick profit of return and sold our 2021 late spring/summer, 2022 & 2023 calves. We have held our cattle stock in order to provide local folk and families with access to the highest quality, 100% grassfed & grassfinished, regenerative beef. We believe in keeping our family owned and operated farm viably farming so current and future generations can still make the connection that local communities were up held by many thriving farms like ours. Farmland and farming is a disappearing landscape, in which I can understand as it often proves to be a hard row to hoe, but the hard and constant work is well worth the cause when we have the support of our loyal and growing custom beef shareholder base, like yourself. It is this human, land, and animal connection that brings beauty to the rough times in farming. The bridging of the gap between these beings in a real and humane way and doing it without the use of synthetic chemicals and routine medications is simply profound, even though in notion it is so basic.

Now for certain, all is not perfect here on the farm and believe me we do not get to all our TO DO list yearly, and that is why I say there is never enough time in a day. We might not get to the fixing of a broken post, graveling a lane, or a downed tree cleaned up and that is because not one of these TO DO's have a life or death deadline. What though we do focus on prioritizing are the life giving aspects of the farm... plants, animals, fungus, and microbes. Then even when we strive towards keeping all life giving aspects thriving, there are off sets within the natural realm of weather, nature, and life that are uncontrollable. Also no matter our highest esteems, I would say every farming year, imperfections arise under our management even when we are trying to be the all and everything to these life giving aspects. When though we can acknowledge the importance of the magic in the interconnectedness of these life giving cycles on our farm, our mistakes are not as detrimental because there is an established inner working harmony. This my friends is the beauty of keeping elements on a working farm pure and simple.

I came across a good resonating quote the other week by Alfred Austin, an English poet..."There is no gardening (I add the word farming) without humility. Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder"

So despite the looming deadlines that can make or break a farm season, I always hope and pray to keep HUMILITY, a sense of AWE, and a belief that SOUL and SPIRIT are always present within the truest of whole and complete natural cycles.

Goodness though, we sure kicked it into high gear over the last four weeks and I knew immediately when I felt the momentary sigh, because I had the extra energy to put forth in a late night post.

The extra high gear in part was brought about to begin with because my husband was out of town on business for two weeks and even though he does not play a daily role every single day on the farm like myself and my Dad, he was certainly missed, as there was not an extra hand to call on when a problem arose or it when it was an extra busy day. So of course, when he was away, our main Ford Tractor's rebuilt starter decided to up and quit a couple mornings after his departure. Yep, Dad and I just had to leave the tractor in the field and walk home. This also was the day that we had a Russell Meat Pick Up for our "Veggie Girl" and "Island Girl " custom beef shareholders. So we fired up the International and went on with feeding. As I have already wrote about in a prior entry, hay feeding 185 cattle on a daily basis with the International Harvester/IH Tractor is way more labor intensive than feeding with the Ford. The Ford tractor has a hydraulic hay feeding attachment that requires still some manual work, because of the way we choose to feed, but is no were near the wear and tare of ones wrist, arms, and lungs (diesel muffler pipe comes out the back) that is brought about, 5 hay bales later, from feeding with the International Harvester/IH. After feeding, we headed out later than expected to get our finished custom beef shares and packed it away in our shareholder freezers. Generally, we do consider Matthew our hauler and picker upper, so this was an extra add on for Dad and I on our already altered day. The irony was that we not only had one Custom Beef Pick Up from Russell Meat Packing, but two while Matthew was away.

Then once we get our custom beef shareholders beef back to the farm, on farm custom beef pick ups started the next day, on going till now really. So in between feeding and caring for all the cattle herds needs, we were helping our shareholders with their custom beef pick ups. From those four beautiful animals that were harvested straight out of our fields for our custom beef shareholders, there was approximately 1,800 pounds of high quality, absolutely delicious, edible end product that made its way into the hands of 33 custom beef shareholder families!! We continue to be so very proud of our beefs and the quality of "clean & nutritious & flavorful" beef they are producing. I LOVE that more and more families are trying our custom beef shares and that they are realizing the value from not just a monetary perspective but from our shear cattle practices standard and meat quality flavor. As I have said, keep it REAL and keep it PURE and the cream will rise to the top! We are so happy to hear all the good things that our custom beef shareholders say about their whole experience of choosing to purchase a custom beef share from Foothill Frolic Farm. Two families have told such mouth watering stories about how they prepared their briskets in a smoker and how yummy they turned out.

Oh and by the way, as of CURRENT we have PRESOLD 21 & 1/2 Beefs and have NOW almost SOLD OUT for July. Remember to Pre Order Now, so you can make sure you have your custom beef share lined up for late summer heading into the Fall.

Also, over this time frame any spare time I had, on non windy and non rainy days, I would be found zooming around on our hand me down 4 wheeler overseeding clover. Other than just about the 10 acres I have left, I will have successfully sowed about 112 acres in the proper month timeline, Feb. 15th-March 15th, for clover seed here in our East TN Appalachian Highlands region. I love doing this as it is always a great practice to help improve pasture land and hay fields. We have done this in different fields every year since 2020. For this year's overseeding, we actually worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service/NRCS by setting up a Conservation Plan and were accepted to be apart of the Conservation Stewardship Program that actually funds us a little for managing our working farm in the way that we do.

Clover is a wonderful legume plant to have in fields as it helps to capture and fix into the soil, and hence the surrounding plants, all that available nitrogen that floats around freely in the air, above ground. Plus as clover is a legume, it contains higher amounts of protein than grasses. Clover is much loved and sought after by cattle. For example, when let into a new rotational paddock, cattle will seek out the clover first and they do the same when feed hay that contains clover, nosing through the pile devouring the clover before touching the grasses.

Oddly enough, I have on record that this past month's accumulated rains added up to be the highest we had received in a months period all winter long, so I feel very fortunate that overseeding went as well as it did. We got practically 6" of rain from Feb. 9th through March 9th.

We ended up having to endure through two weeks of feeding with the IH, as it took that long to get the Starter repaired and back on. Unbelievably so, by the time we had the Ford repaired, in a tricky ditch field exit, Dad actually somehow ended up breaking the High/Low/Reverse Cast Metal lever off and we were left having to reach our hand into an inconvenient spot to either go forward or in reverse. After this, to top it all, I was thinking how fortunate we are that that our hard luck stories always involve non living equipment. It would seem very non apropos wouldn't it, if a regenerative & 100% grassfed and grassfisnished, organically raised cattle farm was always writing about the breakdowns of their cattle and the disfunction of animal parts and the lack of vitality. So this conclusion of thought makes me smile as it is a good sign that we do focus on the life giving aspects of the farm and the lack of hard luck stories that are directly related to our animal's well being and health is quite forthcoming!

The last huge hump that we made it over that gave me the greatest sigh of relief was getting our 2023 calf herd finally moved to their planned winter destination of their 30 acre "Gammon Hill". Their last rotation paddock holdover, in conjunction with the most rainy times all winter long, did not prove for the most ideal circumstance. Not speaking on the calves behalf as they were fine and happy and content. They were getting all the fine care that they always receive, other than their hoofs had to be a little more muddy. The unfavorable circumstance was for the condition of the paddock's soil and grass stand. Two weeks would have been fine, but it was the third week that brought on my tinge of embarrassment. A big part of our farm's winter management is to properly and effectively move around our three different cattle herds so they are regenerating the land and soil, not degenerating. At least it was just the lightest weighted herd, the 2023 calves, or it would have been even worse. Plus, as a farmer always knows, it is amazing how much restoration a fertile, not regularly abused, muddied area can do on its own with just enough recovery time. Despite the presence of mud, a lot of hay, calf manure, and urine was deposited in this paddock, so with some spent hay spreading and heavy over seeding it will be as good as new by the end of the year and it will recover faster because it is a moist area where dryness and infertile soil is not part of the picture.

Once Matthew returned and we had a little extra after school help from a local high schooler, Dusty, the Gammon Hill fence project got placed into the highest extra priority and on Friday March 8th, our group of 46 calves traveled on hoof from the far bottom Lacy paddock onto Minga Rd and up Gammon Rd to their new field. Their move was flawless and they did ever so well to not have ever stepped on pavement before in their lives. If only it could have been captured on film!

On the veggie side of things, our first veggie seeds were started in our own composted seeding mix in our greenhouse....two varieties of Cabbage, one green called Golden Acres and one purple called Amarant. Both certified organic and open pollinated seeds. If all goes well we will be hoping to offer these at our Self Serve Veggie Stand and at the Jonesborough Farmer's Market.

Oh and of course even when we are busy to the brim, we have to eat, and as we never eat out or order out, simple, delicious and nutritious meals these days are mine and Matthew's forte. We have beef and 3 different varieties of greens that have made it from the Fall all through the winter...Kale, Spinach, and Arugula and it seems that most meals contain an arrangement of these stocked items. My new excitement is turning our last share of ground beef & vitals blend into a most delicious breakfast sausage, which all is in the seasoning. I take out a package of our ground, already defrosted slowly overnight. I grind in a coffee grinder, 1Tablespoon each of dried Sage Leaf, Marjoram Leaf, Thyme Leaf, Fennel Seed. I put ground in a bowl and mix in the ground herbs while adding about 1/4 - 1/2 tsp of salt, and fresh grinding in some peppercorns. Sometimes I add a splash of maple syrup and sometimes I don't. I pat out quickly about 6-8 patties and cook up in an iron skillet. An absolute hit with Eastenn Dutch for breakfast and they are a great go to for lunch as well.


Foothill Frolic Farm's 3 Generation Cattle Series Feature

This Photo Series is an idea I had to show the relation of generations within a "Birth to Beef" Regenerative Cattle Farm.

This week's feature actually features Three, 3 Generation Cattle lines as the last 3 weeks were missed.

Number 1 group features Mamma Cow G9, a Hereford, and her 2 calves she has birthed since 2022. G9, is a slightly meek cow and she is our darkest red Hereford in the Herd. She is getting some age on her, but she still is producing well built, good looking calves. Mamma COW G9, is currently pregnant with her calf that will be born in the spring of our 2024 calving season. For the last two calving seasons she has been the 7th cow both seasons to give birth, wonder if she will go for three??!!

First Generation, Mamma Cow, G9 / 2022 calf born on 3-13-22 "Spring Up Stable" 216S /

2023 calf born on 3-21-23 "Contented Core" 337S

Number 2 group features Mamma Cow G6, a Black Angus, and her 2 calves she has birthed since 2022. G6, is a shorter cow and excellent mamma with the shiniest of coats. She as well is getting some age on her, but she still is producing well built, good looking calves. Mamma COW G6, is currently pregnant with her calf that will be born in the spring of our 2024 calving season.

First Generation, Mamma Cow, G6 / 2022 calf born on 3-14-22 "Thankful Pass" 24H /

2023 calf born on 4-2-23 "Pipper Follow" 315H

Number 3 group features Mamma Cow G32, a Baldy, and her 2 calves she has birthed since 2022. G32, is a very tall, magic like cow. She always seems to have an eye on you. To be a baldy, (black and white face) she always produces black calves with a tinge of rust to their coats. Also, it is neat to see how hair lines and styles get passed down...take a look at the straight across chop on all three of these animals! Mamma COW G32, is currently pregnant with her calf that will be born in the spring of our 2024 calving season.

First Generation, Mamma Cow, G32 / 2022 calf born on 3-14-22 "Winter Butterfly" 23H /

2023 calf born on 4-1-23 "Mystic" 327H

Until Next Time, Eat Well and Be Well and Please Pass Along,

Allison Mills Neal of Foothill Frolic Farm

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Great updates, and thank God for momentary sighs! Thank you for all of your hard work that you and your family put into this farm. We greatly appreciate all of you!

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